Washington Post says it is cheaper for healthcare system to treat diseases than prevent them

| April 8, 2008

On the front page of its Health section, the Washington Post (4/8, HE1, Brown) reports that, "in the world of health economics," an "ounce of prevention is" typically "worth considerably less" than an ounce of cure. Most people, particularly politicians, "assume that preventing a disease is cheaper than waiting for the disease to appear, and then treating it." In fact, politicians "often view prevention as an underused weapon in the battle against healthcare costs." For instance, Hillary Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) campaign website states "that her healthcare plan is ‘targeting the drivers of healthcare costs, including our back-ended coverage of healthcare that gives short shrift to prevention.’" Similarly, Barack Obama’s (D-Ill.) plan seeks to "improv[e] prevention and management of chronic conditions." But, the Post notes that "Even when prevention greatly reduces future cases of a particular illness, overall cost to the healthcare system typically goes up when lots of disease-preventing strategies are put into practice." And, this generally holds "true whether treating the preventable diseases is cheap, or expensive."

Category: General Healthcare News

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